Jason Todd "J.T." Ready (February 17, 1973 –
May 2, 2012) was a former American Marine, who had received a bad
conduct discharge, founder and leader of a border militia group and a
former member of the neo-Nazi National Socialist Movement who had
sought the elected office of sheriff of Pinal County, Arizona.
On May 2, 2012, at Ready's home in Gilbert, AZ, he
shot and killed his girlfriend, her daughter and granddaughter, the
daughter's fiance and himself.
Ready attended Mulberry High School in Mulberry,
Florida. While Ready was in high school he had run-ins with the law.
Ready served in the U.S. Marine Corps, achieving
the rank of lance corporal. He attended MCRD Parris Island and went to
the School of Infantry in North Carolina. Ready was assigned to MCB
Camp Pendleton with Reconnaissance Company and 1st LAR Bravo company.
He was booted out of Reconnaissance Company and eventually became a
Scout for a LAV-25 with a M249 light machine gun being his main
During a field exericise at Twentynine Palms Base,
he arrived without his M249 and was duly punished in the field by his
platoon sergeant. Because of his weight and a knee injury sustained
from a PT football game, he did not serve aboard the USS Anchorage
(LSD-36) when Bravo Company left with the 15th MEU in November 1995.
In the fall of 1996, Ready began his first search
for illegal immigrants on Camp Pendleton during the weekends. He
frequented the military stores in Oceanside California buying military
gear that the USMC didn't require him to have such as rappel ropes. He
enjoyed watching military movies such as Red Dawn, was able to sing
Ballad of the Green Berets from memory, and enjoyed loudly playing
military cadences on CD. He was a good swimmer and was able to hold
his breath under water for minutes at a time.
Ready was twice court martialed during his service.
The first resulted in a demotion and three months imprisonment, the
second resulted in six months imprisonment and a Bad Conduct Discharge
from the Corps in 1996. Convictions in the courts-martial included
theft, assault, failure to follow orders, and unauthorized absence.
The revelation of this history caused him to be removed as the master
of ceremonies for a Mesa, Arizona Veterans Day parade in 2006.
Ready was a founder of the Minuteman Civil Defense Corps and the U.S.
Border Guard, two armed vigilante groups that patrolled the
Arizona/Mexico border searching for illegal immigrants.
At the time of his death Ready was under investigation by the FBI, who
were looking into a potential domestic terrorism situation involving
immigrants found shot to death in the desert.
Ready was married to Arline Lindgren until they divorced in 2003.
Ready was baptized into the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day
Saints in 2003 and ordained as an elder by politician Russell Pearce.
In December 2010 a fellow church member described him as "no longer
active" and Ready described himself as a "recovering Mormon." Prior to
moving in with Mederos he worked at an Autozone auto parts store, from
which he was fired.
Ready was politically active in anti-immigration causes. He served as
president of the Mesa Community College Republican Party Club and as a
precinct committeeman for the Maricopa County Republicans. Ready
unsuccessfully campaigned for a seat in the Arizona House of
Representatives in 2004 and for a seat on the city council for Mesa,
Arizona in 2006. He put forth as his motto that "The Purity of the
Aryan Race is the most precious resource Nature has to offer All of
Ready founded a private organization called the U.S. Border Guard in
June 2010, which aimed to curtail illegal immigration by conducting
armed patrols along the Arizona-Mexico border. He attended and spoke
at Tea Party movement events and brought his Border Guard organization
to an Occupy Phoenix rally.
The Anti-Defamation League and the Southern Poverty Law Center
described Ready as a neo-Nazi. Several Republicans attempted to have
him expelled from his position in the party in Maricopa County due to
his controversial views.
Before starting a campaign for the position of Pinal County sheriff,
he left the National Socialist Movement, but had Movement member Harry
Hughes serving as his campaign chairman. He ran for sheriff as a
Democrat, citing the party's past support for Jim Crow and Democratic
politicians who had supported racial segregation, such as Robert Byrd
and George Wallace, as well as stating his opinion that there was no
difference between the Republican and Democratic parties, and that in
a non-partisan position such as Sheriff, political affiliation did not
matter. After Ready's death former Arizona State Senator Russell
Pearce released a statement saying that he had previously rejected
Ready due to his association with "despicable groups in society", and
had objected to Ready's position in the Republican Party.
On May 2, 2012, Ready entered his home in Gilbert, Arizona, and
fatally shot his girlfriend Lisa, her daughter, Amber, Amber's
boyfriend, Jim Hiott, and Amber's infant daughter Lilly. He then
fatally shot himself. A 9-1-1 call made from the house referred to an
argument before the call was interrupted by gunfire. A teenager in the
house at the time was in her bedroom and heard an argument, but
survived the incident without being shot.
Lisa Mederos, age 47, Ready's girlfriend. She is
believed to have made the first 9-1-1 call and was found dead inside
Amber Mederos, 23, Lisa's daughter with Hugo
Mederos. She was found dead inside the home.
Lilly Mederos, 15 months, Amber's daughter. She
was initially found alive inside the home, but was pronounced dead
at the hospital.
Jim Hiott, 24, Amber's fiancee, an Army veteran
who served in Afghanistan. He was found dead outside the home near
A local police spokesman said that this shooting was believed to have
started as a domestic dispute. However, no specific motive has been
revealed. Alongside the local police, the incident and premises are
also being investigated by the Joint Terrorism Task Force, the FBI and
the ATF, who found firearms and six grenades inside the home.
mass killing: Border militia leader identified as shooter
By Jim Walsh and Lindsey Collom - The Arizona
May 2, 2012
A border militia leader on Wednesday shot and
killed four people at a Gilbert home, including a toddler, before
committing suicide, sources said.
Sources identified the shooter as Jason "J.T."
Ready, a reputed neo-Nazi who made headlines when he launched a
militia movement to patrol the Arizona desert to hunt for illegal
immigrants and drug smugglers.
Authorities have not identified the other victims,
but reached by phone Wednesday afternoon, Hugo Mederos said the
victims were his ex-wife, Lisa; their daughter, Amber; Amber's
boyfriend, whose name The Republic is withholding until his next of
kin could be notified, and Amber's 18-month-old baby, Lilly.
Mederos, who lives in Tampa, said Ready lived at
the home with his girlfriend, Lisa.
Ready was a former Marine who headed the U.S.
Border Guard, a militia-style group that routinely performed armed
patrols in the southern Arizona desert. Early this year, Ready had
formed an exploratory committee for a run as Pinal County sheriff.
In a statement of organization filed Jan. 11, Amber
Mederos was listed as treasurer of the Committee to Elect J.T. Ready.
Her name was nowhere to be found in amended paperwork filed March 12.
Gilbert police spokesman Sgt. Bill Balafas said the
gunman's motives is unknown. Authorities recovered two handguns and a
shotgun from the scene, Balafas said.
Members of the anti-terrorism task force are at the
scene and providing personnel to the Gilbert Police Department,
according to an FBI spokesman.
Gilbert Fire Department's hazmat team went to check
on the two 55-gallon drums found on the property and determined they
do not represent an immediate threat. But the bomb squad encountered
munitions in the house, and a decision was made to bring in federal
agents to remove them and treat them as evidence.
The shootings occurred sometime after 1 p.m. in a
residential area in the 500 block of West Tumbleweed Road, near Warner
and Cooper roads.
Balafas said the youngest victim was taken from the
scene to Maricopa Medical Center, where she was pronounced dead.
"There were signs of life, that's why we
transported her," Balafas said. "This is a domestic situation. We do
have a witness that our investigators are interviewing."
Balafas said the witness saw at least part of the
DeAnn Rawson, 38, who has lived in the Lago
Estancia neighborhood for 13 years, said she was "sick to my stomach,
as you can tell everyone driving by is absolutely shocked."
Rawson stood on a street corner and answered
drivers who rolled down their windows to ask what happened.
"I would have come and got her," Rawson said of the
youngest victim. "It makes me mad. I can't have children, and you have
other people doing things that are insane."
Gary Davis, who also lives in the neighborhood,
stood outside Wednesday afternoon, watching the commotion.
"There's no excuse for taking a child's life,"
Davis said. "Nothing ever happens in this neighborhood. It's a shock
Mesquite Junior High School, along with nearby
Gilbert Elementary School, was placed on "modified lockdown" status --
meaning classes go on as normal, but students are not allowed to leave
and no one is allowed to enter the building --- until 2 p.m.
Witnesses in the neighborhood said a SWAT team
sealed off part of the area and that investigators told residents to
Nearly an hour after the shootings occurred, police
were milling around the neighborhood of stucco homes with red-tile
roofs. Police tape cordoned off three separate areas of Tumbleweed
Neo-Nazi militia founder suspected of killing
family in Arizona murder-suicide
By David Schwartz - Reuters.com
May 4, 2012
GILBERT, Arizona — The Neo-Nazi founder of an
anti-immigrant border militia is believed to have shot and killed four
people before turning a gun on himself following a domestic dispute at
a home in a Phoenix suburb, police said on Thursday.
Police believe Jason Todd “J.T.” Ready opened fire
at a house in Gilbert on Wednesday, killing his girlfriend, her
daughter, the daughter’s boyfriend and the young couple’s toddler
daughter. He then shot himself, Gilbert Police Sergeant Bill Balafas
Ready, 39, founded the U.S. Border Guard group, a
private-citizen militia in Arizona that advocated deadly force to stop
illegal immigration over the border from Mexico.
Ready had long-held ties to neo-Nazi groups in the
United States, the Anti-Defamation League and Southern Poverty Law
Center said on their websites.
“We are under attack at this very moment but not by
invading troops [yet] or communistic threat. … What or who is it you
ask? Just look around your neighborhoods and your schools. Look at the
violence on T.V. Look at the border,” Ready said in a posting on his
Police identified the dead as Lisa Lynn Mederos,
47, who they said was Ready’s girlfriend; Amber Nieve Mederos, 23; Jim
Franklin Hiott, 24; and 15-month-old Lily Lynn Mederos, who was still
alive at the scene but later died in a hospital.
Police found the child and the bodies of two adults
inside the home and those of the other adults outside.
“We feel safe to say that this was a domestic
violence issue. There was an argument, and this is purely a domestic
situation,” Balafas said.
Amber Mederos worked at a nearby Wendy’s
restaurant, and was reported to be in the process of moving out of her
mother’s home because of tensions with Ready, who also lived there.
Time to make a better life
Her final posting on Facebook on Tuesday evening
read: “Time to get the drama out of [my] life and make a better life
for me my daughter and my love.”
At the time of the shooting, a female witness was
in the home. Balafas said “she heard arguing, she heard gunshots [and]
came through a back bedroom and located the bodies.”
Officers recovered two handguns and a shotgun from
the scene on Wednesday. The U.S. Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms
and Explosives said six grenades were also retrieved from the house by
a bomb disposal unit from Luke Air Force base, near Phoenix.
“The reason we contacted them is because it is
military ordnance,” ATF agent Tom Mangan told Reuters. He said the
explosives were live, and investigators were tracing the serial
numbers on them to determine their provenance.
A profile of Ready by the nonprofit Southern
Poverty Law Center said he had attended neo-Nazi gatherings in
Nebraska and Phoenix, and railed against Jews and “Negroid
immigration” in white nationalist online forums.
He advocated deadly force to stop Mexicans from
crossing into the United States illegally, and favored laying a
minefield along the U.S. border, the center said.
A chilling propensity to violence was apparent in a
blog posting by Ready on the U.S. Border Guard website.
“Some of us have our fingers on the triggers; Soap
box. Ballot Box. Ammo box. These were given to us by our founding
fathers and mothers,” Ready wrote. “We have just about depleted the
first two options.”
Police had been called to the house on five
previous occasions, for incidents including domestic violence,
disorderly conduct and suspicious activity. None of the incidents
resulted in charges being brought.
Chilling 911 calls details last moments in
May 7, 2012
PHOENIX (Associated Press) — Police on Monday
released some of the 911 calls in the case of a former neo-Nazi who
allegedly fatally shot four people before turning a gun on himself in
a Phoenix suburb.
Authorities believe Jason Todd "JT" Ready killed
his girlfriend and three others, including a toddler, in a domestic
dispute Wednesday at a Gilbert home.
Ready, 39, was the leader of a group of armed
civilians that patrols Arizona's desert near the Mexican border for
illegal immigrants and drug smugglers.
In one of the 911 calls, Ready's girlfriend is
heard saying in a raised voice: "Oh my God. He's got a gun. No!"
before the sounds of two shots.
In another call, a sobbing young woman tells a 911
dispatcher that "my mom and my niece and my sister are all on the
floor. They're hurt pretty bad."
Asked by the dispatcher about the shooter, the
woman said: "It's my mom's boyfriend, JT Ready."
Besides Ready, Gilbert police have identified the
victims as Lisa Lynn Mederos, 47, Ready's girlfriend; Lisa's daughter
Amber Mederos, 23; Amber's 15-month-old daughter, Lilly; and Amber's
boyfriend Jim "Jambob" Hiott, 24.
Lisa Maderos' 19-year-old daughter Brittany
identified herself to the dispatcher in a 911 call, saying she heard
Ready and her mother "fighting and screaming and I was in my room
under a bed... I come out and they're all on the floor and there's
Gilbert police said they found two handguns and a
shotgun at the home when they responded to the 911 calls.
A neighbor is heard on another 911 call saying he
"heard about six shots" and saw the bodies of two men with "blood
coming from their head" outside the home.
The neighbor added that he had just moved in next
door to Ready, only knew his first name and thought he was a U.S.
Border Patrol agent.
Authorities said Ready was a former member of the
neo-Nazi National Socialist Movement and led a civilian border patrol
group known as the U.S. Border Guard.
The FBI was already conducting a domestic terrorism
investigation of Ready at the time of the shootings. The FBI's
investigation dated to when Ready was a member of the neo-Nazi
National Socialist Movement and continued into his participation with
the border group, according to The Arizona Republic.
Search warrant affidavits obtained by the Republic
show federal agents seized numerous computers and munitions from the
Gilbert home where Ready lived and died in an apparent murder-suicide.
The warrants imply weapons seized at the murder scene were stolen from
the U.S. military. Focus on those weapons could trigger a larger
The murders gave the FBI access to Ready's
documents and computers inside the home where he lived with Lisa
Mederos and Brittany Mederos.
Documents connected to the search warrant show that
the FBI agents seized two computer towers and two laptop computers,
correspondence, cellphones, police and Nazi uniforms,
white-supremacist propaganda and bank statements.
Agents seized two assault-style rifles and multiple
rounds of ammunition. The reporting FBI agent focused on
"approximately two dozen military ordnance/40 millimeter grenades"
loaded with explosives, tear gas, buckshot and smoke.
One year after J.T. Ready shootings, a family
contemplates warning signs
By Jim Walsh - The republic / Azcentral.com
April 28, 2013
CLEARWATER, Fla. - Brian Holmquist clutched his
wife's knee as they sat in the living room.
Jeanne sat next to him in the half-dark room, the
afternoon Florida sunlight not quite filling the space. Nearby was
Hugo Mederos, who had once been married to Brian's sister.
Family photos surrounded them, on the mantel over
the fireplace, on the table, on the walls. Around his neck, Brian wore
a gold cross containing the ashes of the loved ones they lost in
Brian didn't even know the man's last name, he
His sister, Lisa, called her boyfriend "J.T."
Brian didn't know Lisa had been living with an
avowed White supremacist, a man who led a border-vigilante group. That
Lisa's boyfriend kept an arsenal at her Gilbert home. That Lisa had
tried to get J.T. to leave, had even gone to the police about it.
If Brian had known enough to type the name "J.T.
Ready" into his computer, he said, things might have ended
"I would have jumped on a plane and handcuffed my
sister and her kids and brought them back here," Brian said. "If we
had Googled his name, I would have been out there the next day."
Instead, Brian didn't learn J.T. Ready's name until
On that day, Ready raised a tan 9 mm Beretta
semiautomatic handgun and killed four people — Lisa Mederos, her
daughter, her daughter's fiancee and her 15-month-old granddaughter —
before turning the gun on himself.
Only one person in the house was left alive, Lisa's
second daughter, Brittany.
The massacre in Gilbert shocked a state that had
known Ready as a sometime political candidate and the leader of the
U.S. Border Guard anti-immigration group, but not a murderer. It
helped trigger an implosion in the border-vigilante movement as other
activists turned away from any connection to the killings.
But most of all, it tore at this family, living six
states away. Lisa's brother, Brian. Her sister-in-law, Jeanne. And
Hugo, grandfather of the massacre's youngest victim.
Since the shootings, the family has kept a low
profile, with each member moving from shock to anger to a grudging
In an interview this month with The Arizona
Republic and 12 News, family members shared their memories, their
emotional journey and their hopes for the one young woman who
All wondered the same thing: if they could have
done something to prevent the heartache.
Hugo and Lisa Mederos raised
their two daughters, Amber and Brittany, in Gilbert. Hugo was
an aircraft mechanic. Lisa was a stay-at-home mom. She collected early
American antiques and furniture.
About 20 years ago, when the girls were little,
their grandfather came from North Carolina to visit. Rolf Holmquist
said he painted an angel on the wall of the bedroom Brittany and Amber
shared, its wings spread wide above them.
"I just wanted someone to watch over them," Rolf
In 2005, Hugo and Lisa split up. Hugo moved to
Florida. Lisa kept the house, and worked odd jobs from time to time.
On Jan. 16, 2008, Lisa and Brittany were jogging
along Cooper Road in Gilbert, less than a mile from home, when a
passing SUV side-swiped another and rolled off the road.
Lisa pushed Brittany out of the way, relatives
said, trying to protect her. The girl was injured, but the vehicle
landed on Lisa, crushing her lower body, breaking a hip.
Lisa spent 10 months in hospitals and
rehabilitation centers. Family members came to Gilbert from all over
the country to help. Lisa learned to walk again.
Finally, she went home, back to a life on her own.
She did everything she could to become independent, relatives said.
When her car needed repair, she went to an Auto Zone store for advice.
That's where she met J.T. Ready, who worked at the
Ready had been active in politics and
anti-immigration activism. He had run for Mesa City Council and other
offices, and served as a Republican precinct committeeman, but he also
had ties to neo-Nazi organizations. He eventually founded a group
called the U.S. Border Guard, which once proposed putting a minefield
along the U.S.-Mexican border. The organization drew the attention of
experts who track hate groups. The Anti-Defamation League had
monitored him for years.
By 2011, Ready had moved into Lisa's house.
Rolf Holmquist said the family was happy at first
when they learned Lisa had a new boyfriend.
"We were happy for her, but the wheels came off,"
he said. "He was very domineering. He would listen in to her talking
with us" by telephone.
Ready, who targeted undocumented immigrants, was
living with a woman whose two daughters had a Latino father. A friend
would later say that he sometimes called Lisa's granddaughter "half
ugly" because she was part Latina.
Lisa's father knew the relationship had turned bad.
Lisa had given him a secret code, and a telephone number for Gilbert
police: If she ended their conversation by using the word "OK," he was
to hang up and call it.
Ready hadn't paid Lisa anything for their living
expenses, her father said. She didn't want to have to move out of her
home or to leave her antique collection, fearing Ready would destroy
it, as he had smashed things during past arguments.
On Feb. 28, 2012, a police report shows, Lisa went
to Gilbert police headquarters. She told an officer that she wanted to
end her relationship with her boyfriend, and asked how she could get
Ready out of her house.
She told police about two domestic-violence
incidents. In one, she said, they had argued about their relationship,
and after she poked Ready in the cheek, he sat on top of her, choking
her. In the other, she said, he had covered her mouth and nose during
an argument in bed.
Officers had no physical evidence Lisa had been
injured, no witnesses to back up the allegations, a police spokesman
would later say. They would investigate the claims, but at the time,
they offered her options for getting the man out of her house.
She could seek an order of protection from Gilbert
Municipal Court, next door. With a court's order, police could
confront Ready that same day, and he would have a choice: leave on his
own, or be arrested. She also could file court paperwork to evict
Ready, a slower process.
The police report says Lisa became tearful and left
the police station. She never went to court to file for the order of
A police officer went to Lisa's house on Feb. 29,
the day after she reported the abuse, and again on March 5, but found
no one home.
An officer found Lisa and Ready at home on March 7.
Lisa told the officer she was fine. Ready refused to talk to them
about Lisa's reports of domestic violence.
It was nearly two months before May 2.
Jeanne Holmquist owns a pink
T-shirt with four names printed on the back. Lisa, Amber,
Lilly and Jim, each with their birth dates, each with the same date of
Brian owns a similar shirt, in black.
Sitting in her living room, Jeanne remembered the
phone call she got in early 2012. It was Lisa, asking for her help.
"She said, ‘I want to break up with him,'" Jeanne
said. "All we knew is that she was living with the same guy she met."
"I said, ‘Lisa, you can break up with some guy.
Tell him he's got to go,'" Jeanne said.
Jeanne said she didn't understand the danger,
didn't understand what Lisa was afraid of.
"Now, I understand why she wanted help," Jeanne
said. "I wish I had done something for her."
But Jeanne also said going to Arizona might not
have saved anyone and may have added to the death toll.
"It could have been us," she said.
What happened inside Lisa
Mederos' house that May afternoon took place mostly among
those who are not alive to talk about it. But 911 records, police
reports and new details from a lead investigator piece together a
rough picture of the day.
Lisa and Ready lived in the house on West
Tumbleweed Road with her younger daughter, Brittany. Amber, 23, had
moved to an apartment in Mesa with her 15-month-old, Lilly — a
"delight," aquaintances would call her, with dark hair and blue eyes.
Amber was engaged to Jim Hiott, a National Guard
veteran who had served in Afghanistan.
Police reports would later indicate that Ready and
Lisa had been arguing the night of May 1, then again the next day
about noon. Ready accused Lisa of breaking something he owned.
Amber, was planning to pick up her sister,
Brittany, for lunch at Joe's BBQ in downtown Gilbert. Amber arrived
with Lilly and Jim.
Then the gunshots started.
Police believe Ready shot either Amber or Lilly
first — one, then the other, in quick succession — near the front
Lisa called police. Investigators concluded she was
still on the phone when she edged around a corner and came into
Ready's view. He shot her in the face, then, after she fell to the
ground, again in the back of the head.
Jim was talking on his phone outside the house.
Police believe he may have walked toward the front door after hearing
the gunshots, but turned to run when he saw Ready emerge, armed.
Ready fired three times. The third bullet hit Jim
in the back of the head. He fell, still clutching his phone in his
Ready then raised the handgun to his own head, just
above his right ear, and fired.
Sgt. Jesse Sanger, who supervised the first
officers on the scene, said all of the victims except Jim had contact
wounds, from the gun barrel being pressed against their heads.
The whole shooting took perhaps less than a minute.
Investigators would later find other guns in the
house, plus three .223 caliber rifles and a .22 in the garage. They
also removed a Nazi flag, uniforms and military grenades.
About 1 p.m., as they arrived at the scene, police
kicked in a bedroom door. Behind it, they found 19-year-old Brittany,
crying, still on the phone with a 911 operator.
In the backyard, a German shepherd barked. Police
didn't want to risk a tangle with the dog by going out the back, so
they led Brittany from the bedroom through the house toward the front
Just keep walking, they implored, as she stepped
over her mother and her sister.
Her father says she kept her eyes closed.
Brian Holmquist wished he had known. Jeanne
Holmquist wished she had done something. Hugo
Mederos had a different perspective.
In the shootings, Hugo lost a daughter, a
granddaughter, and an ex-wife. His loss, he said, is intensified.
He is the one who left them.
"She was a fantastic mother and a fantastic wife,"
he said, sitting on a wooden chair in the Holmquists' living room. "I
was the one who betrayed her."
Hugo was born in Cuba and immigrated to the United
States when he was 8, first living in New York and later in Miami and
Tampa, where he met and married Lisa in 1986.
When they divorced, he left.
"She didn't have a relationship with anyone for
years," he said. "She was hoping I would walk back through that door."
Hugo had gone back to Florida. He married his
second wife, Dagmara. They had a son.
And when Lisa became involved with Ready, he
believed, she hid details of abuse from her family because "she felt
embarrassed that the only relationship she found was the wrong one."
He said his daughters protected his ex-wife's
privacy by not telling him about Ready's abuse.
"She had in her mind that no one would love her,"
Hugo said. "I hurt her so bad, she was very vulnerable. She didn't
deserve me and she didn't deserve that animal."
The days after the shooting
brought Lisa's family to the scene of a tragedy.
The funeral was private. Hundreds of people showed
up at a candlelight vigil.
Hugo also took Lisa's antiques to Merchant Square
Antique Marketplace, a couple of miles away in Chandler, where she had
purchased most of them as a regular customer. Brenda Montemorra, the
manager, said Lisa, Amber and Lilly had visited the store a few days
before May 2.
The store sold Lisa's antiques in a silent auction
and donated $8,000 to the family for funeral expenses and other costs.
"It was such a tragic event. She was a nice lady. I
felt for the family," Montemorra said. "It was the least we could do."
Hugo said support from the community helped him to
survive the initial shock from the slayings.
"In the face of all the evil, Arizona and its
people opened its arms to me," he said.
After the funeral, Hugo returned to the house to
box up some mementos. He taped the box closed and hauled it back to
He took Brittany to live with him. In January, he
sold the Gilbert house.
The massacre had farther-reaching effects.
It contributed to the decline and collapse of the
border-vigilante movement, according to Heidi Beirich, director of the
intelligence project for the Southern Poverty Law Center in
Beirich said J.T. Ready's shootings, along with the
conviction of two other border activists in the 2009 slayings of Raul
Junior Flores, 29, and his 9-year-old daughter, Brisenia Flores, in
Arivaca, led many followers to abandon the movement.
The number of border-vigilante groups tracked by
the center has declined from 309 in 2010, to 185 in 2011, to 38 in
2012, Beirich said. She said it is possible that none will be charted
this year. The Southern Poverty Law Center had argued for years that
racism, rather than border security, was driving the movement.
"Basically, this movement collapsed," she said. "I
think it had a devastating effect."
Hugo Mederos said the victims of Ready's rampage
were not racists, despite their association with Ready. He said Ready
manipulated and coerced them.
"I don't want my family seen as racists like that
animal," he said.
Lilly's father, Jess Boggs of Mesa, had stayed
involved in her life, though his relationship with Amber had fizzled.
He remained friends with Amber and with the Mederos family, but
struggled to cope with the loss.
In Florida, the relatives are learning.
Brian Holmquist is seeing a psychiatrist. Brittany
is seeing a counselor.
Brian described his loss at a church service in
Florida that raised money for a domestic-violence prevention program.
Jeanne Holmquist read, "For the Love of Lilly," a
poem she wrote on a sleepless night shortly after the slayings.
Brian and Jeanne Holmquist hope to volunteer in a
domestic-violence program when they are ready emotionally.
Rolf Holmquist wishes more had been done after
Lisa's visit to police two months before her death. "They let Lisa
down," he said. "They could have done something." He said Lisa didn't
seek a court order because she feared retaliation by Ready.
A Gilbert police spokesman said officers had
offered her the best options within the law.
The Mederos case is under review by the East Valley
Domestic Violence Fatality Review Team, a group of police and
domestic-violence experts. They examine one fatal case each year to
offer recommendations on how laws or procedures may be changed to
prevent future deaths.
"We are hanging onto the hope that we can make
something good out of this,'' said Rolf Holmquist, Brian and Lisa's
For Hugo, the last image of his older daughter is
one that stays with him.
At the funeral, Amber lay next to her baby, Lilly,
in a single casket. Amber was holding Lilly's hand.
"My last vision of her was of her holding her
baby," Hugo said.
Hugo's younger daughter,
Brittany, is 20 now. He still has not asked her about what
she saw that day.
"Maybe I am scared and maybe I don't want to know,"
Brittany knows few people in Florida, he said. She
makes frequent trips back to Arizona to see friends.
Hugo said Brittany is leaning toward staying in
Arizona and enrolling at Arizona State University. He is glad to see
her focusing on the future, but would have preferred spending more
time with her.
"I thank God for her," Hugo said. "I pray for her
They have yet to open the box of memories from the
house in Gilbert. He hopes one day they can do it together.
Hugo, Brian and Jeanne all look back at the warning
signs and think about what they might have done.
They also all share another belief about that day
As Brittany hid in the back bedroom, the angel her
grandfather had painted decades earlier hovered behind her on the
They believe it was watching over her.